Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, gives patients the ability to meet with healthcare providers remotely using telecommunications technology. As telemedicine grows, you may have questions about this healthcare service. HealthMarkets answers some of telemedicine’s most frequently asked questions.
What Is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine is what allows patients to receive non-emergency medical advice or a diagnosis of their symptoms from a doctor by using a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other device while remaining in the comfort of their home.
For more than a decade, physicians and healthcare providers have been equipped with telemedicine apps, tools, online portals, and connected devices to diagnose patients from afar. This eliminates traveling to an office and expedites the patient-care cycle. Using a telehealth service can help reduce the risk of catching and/or spreading an illness.
What Is the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?
The difference between “telehealth” and “telemedicine” is minimal. The terms are generally regarded as synonyms and used interchangeably to refer to the long-distance exchange of medical information through electronics and telecommunications.
But, in some instances, “telemedicine” can mean the specific practice of remote care for a patient by a provider using telecommunications technology, whereas “telehealth” can more generally refer to the technologies and services used to deliver and receive patient care.
What Is Telemedicine Used For?
Telemedicine allows people with health concerns to gain instant access to:
- Physicians who can prescribe medication through 24/7 consultations over the phone or online.
- Health professionals who can help you navigate the healthcare and health insurance systems.
- Skilled negotiators who can help lower out-of-pocket costs on medical bills.
- Consultations during holidays, weekends, and late nights.
So, what is telemedicine? It is virtual access to healthcare services. You can focus on your health by taking advantage of these benefits, while saving time and money.
What Are Examples of Telemedicine?
Examples of telemedicine include health advocacy and physician consultations. Patients can easily contact a doctor for non-emergency medical inquiries at any time of day, even on weekends and holidays. Physicians can effectively provide treatment for allergies, bronchitis, sore throat, sports injuries, headaches, skin conditions, and more with a telehealth system.
Mental healthcare is also possible with telemedicine, which can include virtual visits with licensed therapists and psychiatrists. Treatment can be provided for eating disorders, parenting issues, stress, grief, and other conditions.
The healthcare system may seem complex and intimidating. A telemedicine health advocate can help, if your plan includes this service. Whether it’s locating a physician or hospital, resolving insurance claims, or finding new medical treatments, health advocates can help you navigate the system and its processes.
Why Do We Need Telemedicine?
We need telemedicine because some patients are unable to visit a physician’s office. If you’re located in a rural area or otherwise unable to leave your home, telemedicine services can help you get the healthcare you need.
Does Telemedicine Reduce Costs?
Telemedicine can reduce costs significantly. As of 2018, 57% of Americans said they had received a surprise bill for a medical expense not covered by insurance. The savings provided by telehealth services could be valuable. Depending on the plan, you could see discounts ranging from 25% to 50%. Avoiding emergency departments and using a telemedicine visit can help patients save hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars. Unexpected costs and high medical bills can add to stress levels, but a telemedicine health advocate or service can help ease your burden.
Does Medicare Pay for Telemedicine?
Medicare Part B provides coverage for various telemedicine services. The deductible applies once 20% of the Medicare-approved amount is paid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) eased restrictions on telemedicine in March 2020, allowing beneficiaries expanded access to telehealth services.
Find Telemedicine Benefits Today
If your health insurance plan doesn’t provide access to telemedicine or health advocacy, HealthMarkets can help you find wellness plans that do. Learn more about wellness plans that offer telemedicine services now.